03/03/2010 12:00AM

Tizaqueena, Tybalt handle surface switch


Trainer Mike Stidham had two live horses entered for turf Saturday, but even though grass races wound up being rained onto the main track, Tizaqueena and Tybalt won anyway.

Tizaqueena, making her first start of 2010, rallied from midpack to win the Lacombe Memorial, but while the victory ran Tizaqueena's dirt record to 2 wins and 1 second from 3 starts, she will return to turf for her next start. Stidham said that Tizaqueena will be considered for the Bayou Handicap on March 26 at Fair Grounds, and for the April 10 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. The latter race is of greater importance and offers a higher purse, but Tizaqueena won the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day in 2009, and her connections hope to start her in that race again this year.

"The timing might be better for that race to run at Fair Grounds," Stidham said.

Another dirt race, however, could be in the cards for Tybalt, who beat only two foes in an off-the-turf third-level allowance race, but looked good doing so. A 6-year-old Storm Cat horse (owned, like Tizaqueena, by the Darley Stable), Tybalt didn't race for more than a year after almost winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile in September 2008. Tybalt made his comeback last fall at Keeneland but floundered on a soft turf course. At Fair Grounds in January, he once again failed to show his best on a wet course.

"I don't know that he's in love with this turf course, and I think he needs a firmer turf," Stidham said. "He's always worked well for us on dirt, so it was the obvious thing to go ahead and try him Saturday when it came off. We'll look at the New Orleans Handicap for him, and there's always Keeneland, too, since he won on Poly in Europe. He's got a lot of options right now."

Bridgmohan atop rider standings

Going into the meet, Jamie Theriot and Robby Albarado would have been co-favored in the race for leading rider this winter. But as the Fair Grounds season enters its homestretch, it is Shaun Bridgmohan and James Graham battling at the top. After Monday's races, Bridgmohan held a three-win lead over Graham, 60-57, with Theriot sitting third at 50 winners. Albarado is seventh in the standings, with 39 wins, but he has ridden just 217 horses at the meet, compared to 398 for Graham.

Bridgmohan, meanwhile, has won his 60 from just 249 mounts, while obviously benefiting from his close association with trainer Steve Asmussen. Bridgmohan, seeking his first Fair Grounds riding title, has ridden 48 Asmussen-trained horses to victory so far this meet.